Hello again, and greetings from Boston! Classes on campus start today, but already it’s been a busy couple of weeks for the library and archives since returning from the winter break. That being said, I don’t have much in the way of finished products to show for it all just yet. As I wrote in my introductory post, my position is funded by a start-up grant from the NHPRC to formalize Berklee’s college archives and if there’s anything I’ve grown to appreciate even more from my experience thus far, it’s that establishing an archives (and records management) program is far from a tidy, linear process.
Thus far, the mission statement, acquisitions and access policies have been drafted, revised, and are in the late stages of review. I have processed a collection of faculty papers, encoded a couple of finding aids, and have been working with our web developers on a prototype website for the archives. I now have a graduate student intern who will be processing one of our photographic collections and who will hopefully create a finding aid for a set of scores as well. In these next few days I will also be interviewing for an undergraduate student worker to provide additional processing help.
In addition to managing student assistants and shepherding the various administrative policies on their way to formal adoption, one of my big projects this semester will be conducting a comprehensive records management survey, which we aim to launch by the end of the month. Overall, when I look at our workplan relative to what we have accomplished I can see we are making good progress, but on a daily or weekly level, tangible results can seem few and far between and right now nearly everything seems to be “in progress” in one way or another. Fortunately, I have had some built-in opportunities to synthesize and reflect upon our progress, which has gone a long way towards helping me maintain a healthy sense of perspective.
Early last week, my supervisor and I presented two sessions on the archives project as part of the College’s annual faculty symposium “Berklee Teachers on Teaching.” The sessions were well-received by those in attendance and I was buoyed by the enthusiasm faculty members expressed, appreciative of their suggestions, and emerged with a better sense of what kinds of materials and opportunities held their interest moving forward. In addition to these presentations, I also contributed a brief update to our library’s blog to share our progress more broadly with the campus community and have been reviewing our project goals in preparation to submit our first report to the NHPRC.
All in all, the new year has gotten off to an eventful but productive start. Like Emily, I hope next month’s post brings “joyous tales” of completion of at least some of the projects mentioned above, but I have also come to recognize (and appreciate) there may be detours along the way.
Speaking of detours… Given the unfinished nature of my work – and in the interest of making this a conversation – it seemed most appropriate to end this post on a question. This is particularly for the (current or former) college archivists among you. As I juggle my various responsibilities, something perennially on my mind has been making time to solidify my knowledge of Berklee as an institution, particularly as a non-alum. I have done basic research, I’m fortunate to be surrounded by myriad alumni staff members, and I know it’s partly a matter of time and immersion on the job, but do you all have any tips or shortcuts for familiarizing yourself with the history, structure, and traditions of your home institution? I would very much welcome your thoughts!